Top 10 Zero Waste Blogs to Follow in 2019--
If you already recycle, bring your reusable bags into the store, compost and you are looking to do more for the planet, then you may want to check out the zero-waste movement. The concept behind zero-waste is to live a lifestyle where you don’t us a trashcan or recycling bin. From this perspective the best way to reduce waste is to never make it in the first place! This focus can greatly reduce your carbon footprint and do your part to reduce the more than 262 million tons of trash generated in the U.S. in the year 2015 alone, according to this study by the EPA.
Striving for zero-waste is not an easy goal, and it can be confusing to know where to start. Fortunately, there are some great models of people online living a zero-waste lifestyle who offer lots of great perspectives, tips and inspiration. They info they share includes places to shop, how to deal with food waste, essential items to support the lifestyle, and more. Can’t figure out how to have body-care and makeup items without all the plastic packaging? These folks have been doing it for years and can act as guides. So without further ado, here are the top ten zero-waste blogs as ranked by feedspot.
After a health scare made her examine the chemicals in her environment and radically change her lifestyle, Kathryn Kellogg is now inspiration for more than 126,000 followers on instagram. She blogs documents her journey to reduce waste, eat whole foods, find plastic alternatives and collect adventures instead of things. She explains the zero-waste lifestyle as a step-by-step process that is easy to follow. “Small actions done by hundreds of thousands of people will change the world. You don’t have to be perfect to make a difference, you just have to try.”
Zero Waste Home
Treading My Own Path
Upon their return to California, they began to investigate the idea of going zero-waste—essentially, reducing dependence on disposable consumer goods by investing in sustainable, reusable alternatives. Their steep learning curve was the catalyst for them to start Wild Minimalist, with the goal of making it easier for people to begin their journey towards a zero waste lifestyle. Their goal is to provide high quality products and ship them with sustainable packaging materials. “Ideally, as you embark on your journey, you will find many of your zero waste essentials at your local Goodwill or vintage store. When you can’t find what you’re looking for second-hand, we’d be proud to serve you.”
That’s it for our ten person tour of inspiring zero-waste blogs and influencers, but there’s lots more out there! What do you see as the hurdles to going zero-waste, or low-waste in your own life? Lack of bulk stores, difficulty shopping, or other considerations entirely? Let us know by leaving a comment below.
Top Ten Social Entrepreneurs
& what we can learn from them.
First of all, what is social entrepreneurship?
Social entrepreneurship is business that is not just concern with the bottom line of profit, but also with social and environmental issues. This is known as the triple bottom line or the Three P’s– profit, people and planet. Unlike nonprofits, social enterprise still earns a profit. Unlike most business, the focus is on the social or environmental change made while earning that profit. To quote MeiMei Fox from her article in forbes.com.
“Today’s young people are as concerned with making a positive impact on the world as they are with making money. A whopping 94% want to use their skills to benefit a cause. Meanwhile, only half of Americans have confidence in the free market system, down from 80% just 15 years ago.”
Given this desire to do good in the world, social enterprise has taken off as a new formula for success. There are actually limitations on being a not-for-profit that most people don’t realize, such as the requirement that half your funds com from grants and donations. For many business, this either wouldn’t work at all, or it would work for the disposition of the founders. Some people just don’t like the idea of writing grants and asking for handouts, and you can hardly blame them.
By being a self-funding, for-profit businesses you can use the money you make to tackle global issues such as alleviating hunger, improving education, and reversing climate change. The achieve this, companies might fund their own programs, partner with governments or not-for-profits, 0r follow a one-for-one model of sales (i.e. Buy a pair a of shoes and we’ll give one away, as seen in the examples below). Social entrepreneurs are often extremely enthusiastic about what they do for a living because it allows them to live their passion and embrace a career full of meaning. Here are 10 examples of massively successful social entrepreneurs.
1. Bill Drayton
Bill Drayton isn’t just a great example of a social entrepreneur. He was the one who helped define and promote the term ‘social entrepreneur’ itself. Drayton founded “Ashoka: Innovators for the Public” in 1980, which takes a multifaceted approach to finding and supporting social entrepreneurs globally. The Ashoka Foundation has sponsored over 2,100 fellows in 73 different countries. Some of these companies have gone on to develop social enterprises that have made a huge impact around the world.
Drayton also acts as a chairman at Community Greens, Youth Venture and Get America Working! In addition to that, The Ashoka Foundation has sponsored over 2,100 fellows in 73 different countries. Some of these companies have gone on to develop leading social businesses that have made a huge impact on communities around the world.
Rachel Brathen wrote the New York Times best-selling book Yoga Girl. This is also the handle for her Instagram account, which reaches 2.1 million followers. In addition to sharing yoga poses and tips, Rachel aims to connect teachers with those who need healing. “What if social media could become a social mission?” asks Brathen. She has an online channel oneoeight.tv, which offers health, yoga, and meditation services. If that wasn’t enough, she also runs 109 World, a socially conscious website that focuses on providing solutions to eight urgent global issues including food security, water pollution. and gender inequality.
Shiza Shahid is the co-founder of the Malala Fund, named after Malala Yousafzai, who is the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. The two were both born in Pakistan, and the two met when Shiza reached out to Yousafa to help organize a camp for her and other Pakistani girls in 2009. In 2012, Yousafzai was shot by the Taliban for promoting female education and survived, determined to continue her work. Shiza was inspired by her determination and passion and decided to help strategize her campaign, and after graduating from Stanford Shiza led the creation of the Malala Fund, whose goal is to advocating and spreading access to education for women and girls.
Blake Mycoskie founder of the popular shoe company TOMS, which start after he visited Argentina and learned that many children get sick or injured because they do not have access to footwear. In his desire to help, Mycoskie invested $300,000 of his own money to start TOMS, pledging to donate one pair of shoes to people in need for every pair that is purchased. By 2018, the company has donated more than 70 million pairs of shoes and more than 335,000 weeks of safe water. In 2011, TOMS launched another campaign which gives away a pair of glass or eyesight surgery for every pair of glasses sold, which has now improved the vision of more than 600,000 without charge. How’s that for inspiring?
Lack of access to clean drinking water is a huge issue that affects millions of people around the globe. After a life-changing visit to Liberia, Scott Harrison decided to devote his life to this issue and founded Charity: Water, a nonprofit that provides potable water in 26 countries world-wide. The give 100% of their profit to countries that need clean water. At the time of this writing (Janauary 2020), the organization has completed over 44,000 projects in developing countries and to aid over 10 million people around the world.
Muhammad Yunis is a huge name in the world of social entrepreneurship because he literally wrote the book on it. He has also popularized microfinance and microcredit, which are the the foundational techniques of the Grameen Bank, which he started in 1983. This organization is based on the principles of trust and solidarity to empower villagers with the funds they need to develop financial self-sufficiency. The Grameen Bank claims a payback rate of their loans of 98%, which is a recovery rate higher than any traditional bank. For this pioneering work, Yunus was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2006, U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009, and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2010.
Jeffery Hollender is the co-founder of Seventh Generation, a sustainably focused cleaning, paper, and personal care products company. The name comes from the American Indigenous people, which encourages one to think of how your actions will affect the world seven generations from now. In this spirit, the company offers products that reduce environmental impact,, in part by avoiding the harsh chemicals that so common in most modern cleaning and personal care products. Though it is commonly thought that adherence to such stringent environmental considerations will reduce profits, but Hollender and his company have shown otherwise, bringing in $150 million in revenue in 2010. The company also donates 10% of of it’s pre-tax profits to help fund other social enterprise companies. After being let go as CEO in 2010, he is now a sought after consultant, speaker, author and activist for corporate social responsibility. Hollender has written seven books including his best known “How to Make the World a Better Place.” He is co-founder & CEO of Hollender Sustainable Brands as well as co-founder of Sustain Condoms at Sustain, an arm of Hollender Sustainable Brands. He is also an adjunct professor at New York University and co-founder and board chair of the American Sustainable Business Council; and a board member of various other organizations, including Greenpeace USA, Health Care Without Harm, and workers’ rights organization Verité.
These are the co-founders of Better World Books, an online bookstore funding global literacy. They met at Notre Dame University, where they tutored the football team and began collecting unwanted books to sell on the internet. Helgesen is CEO and co-founder of Off Grid Electric, which provides renewable energy to homes in the “off-grid world.” For a time, Kurzman held CEO position at Aid Through Trade, a company that distributes handmade accessories from Nepal around the U.S. Here he was responsible for an 110% growth in sales, according to CrunchBase. He also co-founded the nonprofit Operation Incubation, which delivers low-cost, low-maintenance incubators to the developing world.
Mark Koska re-designed medical tools, introducing a non-reusable, inexpensive syringe to be used in under-funded clinics. This innovation safeguards against the transmission of blood-borne diseases. Koska founded the SafePoint Trust in 2006, delivering 4 billion safe injections in 40 countries by Auto-Disable (AD) syringes. The Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneurs of the Year in 2015 lists Koska for his pioneering solution to world health issues. The World Health Organization announced a global policy on safe injections in February of 2015. (For more, watch Mark’s TED Talk: 1.3 Million Reasons to Re-invent the Syringe.)
Sanjit “Bunker” Roy has helped thousands of people in Asia and Africa to learn core technical skills and help to bring solar power to remote villages. He founded the Barefoot College in 1972, a solar powered college for the poor. Roy describes the Barefoot College as “the only college where the teacher is the learner and the learner is the teacher. The college specializes in training illiterate women from poor communities to become doctors, engineers and architects. Pretty amazing, eh?If that wasn’t enough, as proof of the effectiveness of the methods, each college campus is solar powered and many are built and designed by former students. The goal of the college is not to make profit, but to help improve the economic production and quality of life of women throughout his native India. With women leading and running most of the Barefoot College’s operations, it’s clear that he’s been pretty successful in achieving that goal.
That’s our list of the top 10 most successful social entrepreneurs. Can you think of anyone else who should be on the list by bringing purpose and the planet into their business along with a focus on profit? Let us know below!
12 Factors When Choosing the Venue for Your Event
Searching for the right venue for your event can be stressful and time-consuming. Have a list of questions and considerations with you when you tour your potential venues to make the process easier. A space may look gorgeous, but it may not have everything needed to make your event the best it can be. Here are some key factors to consider, divided by category, to help you decide on the right spot.
Most of us have heard the mantra in real estate that the most important thing “location, location, location.” While there’s a difference between buying a place and renting one as a venue, location is still equally as critical. For a local event, the distance from most of your attendee’s homes or place of work can be an important factor. If many of your attendees will be coming in from out of town, then a venue near airports or at least hotels will make the event that much more accessible. Some venues may have a special shuttle or arrangements with local transportation services. Knowing the details of transportation will be particularly important if the venue is in a remote location.
What style of parking is the event venue? Does it have a parking lot or valet parking? A venue with its own parking lots is great, though you are usually paying more for the convenience. If not, are there nearby parking lots with sufficient capacity to be used for your events? If there
is no nearby parking available that would be up to the job, there are other options you can consider such as:
You can reserve a parking lot nearby that may otherwise be too full for all of your event participants (either a section of the parking lot or the whole thing). Then you can either have your attendees pay when they park or include the cost of parking in your ticket price.
Uber, Lyft and other riding sharing services offer discounts for events. You can set this up with them before your event and offer the promo code to your attendees.
You could offer your own valet parking, even if it doesn’t come with the event. If your event is upscale, this can make all the difference in your attendee’s perception of your event’s quality.
Is there a convenient way to transport the equipment that has to be brought to and from the space? Factor in the costs of transport, set-up and take-down time when considering which venue to rent.
You need to know the maximum number of people that will be coming to your event. This is both for the comfort of your guests, and because there are fire and safety codes the venue has to abide by.
Aside from capacity in the absolute sense, different activities take a different amount of square footage per person. This range is from 5-20 sq. ft. per person. The table below gives some more specific estimates.
|Sq. Ft Per Guest||Sophisticated||Lively||Hot|
|Dinner Party—plates on laps||20 ft2||15 ft2||NA|
|Cocktail Party||12 ft2||10 ft2||8 ft2|
|Into the Night/ Dance Party||8 ft2||6 ft2||5 ft2|
If a venue offers food and/or beverages, they may set a minimum amount that you, the event planner, have to spend on food and beverages. This is known as a F&B minimum. If they do, you need to make sure that you are able to meet this requirement. To do this, you can look at your records of past events, or if you don’t have this experience, talk to your caterer to get an estimate. If you are significantly over this minimum, the venue will consider you a good customer. This can also give you negotiating power to ask for additional complementary services.
Does the venue have a kitchen? Is so, does it have the capacity for your event. If they don’t have a kitchen, then are you allowed to bring in outside caterers and would the venue charge a fee for that? If the venue has a kitchen capable of catering your event and you choose to go with them as your provider, you will often have the facility fee waived and will only be charged a down payment as well as the cost of food for each attendee. Venues without kitchens sometimes have partnerships with a caterer that you are required to use. If so, check out their food and see if you like it and it will be a good fit for your event. Is the cost of their services within your budget? What options do they offer (buffet, full-service, number of courses, etc.)? Does the venue have a list of exclusive suppliers? You know what a difference good food makes to people, so you want to be sure that you won’t be serving sub-par food that will create a negative experience. If a venue forces you to use their food and you don’t like then you will probably want to go with another provider.
You may wish to ask if the venue has ever held an event like the one you are planning. If they have, you may wish to ask for references.
If you need tables, chairs and linens for your event, ask if the space has them available. If they do, it can save you a lot of time, money and effort as long as what is available works with the theme and ambiance of the event.
Is there a setup/clean-up crew available? If so, you’re in luck! Not every venue has these. If they aren’t available through the venue itself, you’ll have to do the extra leg-work of finding the right people for this, either in a paid position or as volunteers.
In the more general sense, think about how much you will need the services of the venue’s staff. If you wish to bring in your own outside event staff, find out if there is any extra fee for this.
What are the tech capability of the venue? Do they have WiFi, speakers, microphones, cameras, computers, etc?. Like any other amenity, a space may or may not have what you need in terms of equipment. If they don’t, you will have to decide if it is worth the extra effort to bring in the needed to make the space work.
And last but not least– do they have enough bathroom capacity for your event? If it is an indoor space that is designed for events, then they are legally required the right number of bathrooms relative to the room capacity, but if your event is outdoors and you need to rent porta potties then you can use this handy chart supplied by https://www.servicesanitation.com.
Your events activities, your required amenities and the needs of your team and attendees will dictate what sort of space you are looking for. Ideally, thes
e factors are more or less figured out before you ever begin to look for the event space itself so that you know exactly what to look for.
Get a floor plan of your potential spaces and think about how the event you will host would fit in each. Ideally, you would do a walk-through of your favorites to get a feel for the spaces and notice details that may not be on the floor plan, such as where the outlets are and where the AV equipment etc. is located.
When you’re looking at the floor plans and walking the space about the flow of traffic through your event. Where will be the high traffic areas? Are there any bottlenecks? Where will people check-in or register? Where are the entrances and exits? What will it be like when it’s filled with X number of tables and chairs?
Think about the activities of the event and where they will take place. Will there be speakers, will there be a dance floor, dining area or bar? Don’t be afraid to get out a measuring tape to realistically see how the open space will change these areas are defined.
There are four cardinal points in your party space: entrance, bar, food, and music. Keep them separate. And be sure to have open space in between, preferably open to the entrance. Don’t be afraid to shift some furniture.
What is the existing decor inside the venue? What is the architectural style of the building and what does it convey? Obviously, you don’t want these to be at odds with the aesthetic you are going for. Certain venues lend themselves to certain types of events. You can make up the difference with the decor to a certain extent, but you also need to be able to recognize that it may not be worth it. You can love a venue and it still may not be right for the event you are throwing.
Find out if the venues you are considering require that you have insurance your own insurance. Make sure to start early to leave yourself plenty of time. Contact your general liability insurance agent to get an endorsement for your event.
How accessible is the space? The idea of accessibility is that every person, including children those with special needs, can access the venue and its amenities. It may not be important for a given event, depending on who the attendees are, but it’s something you should make sure to consider. Some spaces are designed with this in mind and others are not.
Acoustics is just a fancy way of saying how sounds travels through a space. A lower ceiling will make the sound louder because there’s less space for it to fill. A high ceiling can disperse the sound more, but can also cause echos, unless the space has been sonically treated to reduce this effect. The material of the walls, floor and ceiling will all make a difference in how the sound waves bounce off or absorb into the surfaces. This is another thing to consider when doing your walk-through, and you may even consider bringing a portable but powerful speaker to get a sense of how sound behaves in the venue. You can also ask the person touring you the venue about the sound.
12. Cost and Flexibility on Event Date
The more flexible you are on your events date, the better your chances of being able to negotiate a lower price with the venue. They may have open time slots they want to fill so if possible try to provide multiple options for the date of your event. This is another reason to start planning for your event early. Sometimes venues just offer a flat fee, which may depend on the time and day of the week. There may be a premium or discount for booking during certain times of the year. Closely look at their booking policy, considering such factors as deposits, refundability for cancellations (to what degree and the time frame), events extending past the booked past allotted time, damage fees, etc. Get clear on the venues restrictions to avoid getting any surprise fees.
That’s it for our list of considerations when choosing a venue. Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below!
HOW TO OFFSET YOUR CARBON EMISSIONS
The uncomfortable elephant in the room at the global dinner party = greenhouse gas emissions.
The problem can seem so vast and thus overwhelming that many people ignore it rather than face it, and perhaps find bliss in the ignorant belief that someone, somewhere else will solve the problem for them. However, this attitude can leave you feeling disempowered to have any impact on your life and these circumstances, when the opposite is the case.
It is true that corporate/government decisions about emissions matter in aggregate more than personal choices. However corporations and governments are comprised of people, and larger numbers of people taking regenerative actions can begin to impact these influential bodies. For example, having a firm understanding of how to make simple changes yourself will empower you to tackle larger changes in your work place or other institutional setting.
One choice is offsetting your emissions. You can do this by:
(1) Switch your electric bill to 100% renewable. (scroll down to see how to that in our previous post). This is a big deal because the highest carbon emissions per person is from electricity, followed by vehicle emissions, natural gas use, and emissions from waste.
(2) Calculate your emissions. We used this calculator from the EPA. This part can be a bit tricky if you aren’t used to spreadsheets. We are happy to help (email Ashley).
(3) Choose your organization to support! This year we hosted a farm to table brunch with Gourmet Diva that donated to Red Hook Farms. Another organization to check out is Local Farms Fund. They help early-stage NY organic farmers by providing capital to help them buy their land. Ensuring local organic farming remains financially viable is critical for building a regenerative food system, especially because Big Ag is supported by subsidies and thus artificially cheap.
For any organization you decide to support, you have to make an educated estimate of how much of your emissions will be offset by your donation. You might look at the impact materials for the organization and see if they have any breakdown of what they can do with your funds.
(4) Write a post about what you did and share the process with your communities!
(PS) We suggest reviewing your emissions and how you choose to offset them once a year.
We look forward to hearing what you decide to support!
HOW TO SWITCH YOUR ELECTRICITY BILL TO 100% CLEAN WIND ENERGY
1. Call Ambit Energy: (877) 282-6248
2. Tell them where you live and that you want to purchase the 100% renewable wind option that is sourced regionally (e.g. North east if you live in NYC). You have to emphasize that you want 100% or they may try to sell you a mixed bag with dirty energy. The world isn’t perfect after all!
3. The agent on the phone will sign you up and contact Con Ed to switch over your bill.
4. Wait for your next bill! Takes 1 or 2 bill cycles to start.
5. Copy and paste this post and share with your friends to do the same!
Our First Newsletter
- Small Business Growth and Development: helping entrepreneurs establish and grow small businesses or organizations. During our research we learned that there is a lack of support, both culturally and organizationally, for supporting entrepreneurs living in lower income communities. This winter we are hosting a workshop series for small businesses and business ideas starting Sunday Feb 3rd from 2-4pm. We also continue to accept applications on a case by case basis.
- Friday Collectives: creating conversations and programming around how our local communities can become more sustainable and self-sufficient. We are hosting our the first one on February 8th from 7-9pm exploring local renewable energy. Please Register on Meetup here!
- Mapping community resources available for sustainable development projects: we are researching practical steps to take for sustainable infrastructure projects like community solar. We are actively doing research on other companies and projects that are doing similar work, looking for collaborators, and looking for interested local members who want to help get projects like this off the ground.
- Programming: we want this space to be a trellis for community members to apply to run their own events, programming, classes, or other ideas. We invite you to send us your ideas, and if it is a fit with our mission we will provide support or help research ways to get the appropriate funding/etc.